Have You Heard the One About…

You All Meet at an Inn… by Rebekah Bennington

Hello friends!

The Rumor Events Table in the Town chapter is perfectly fine, but if you’ve been running Torchbearer for a while, you might be a bit bored with it. Fortunately for you, Luke has worked up a brand new table to add a little spice to your trip to the tavern. It’s actually a combination of rumors and events.

Check it out, use it in your game and let us know how it goes!

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Friends shall gladden each other

Walhall, die Götterwelt der Germanen (ca. 1905) by Emil Doepler

[41] Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,

As each for himself can see;

Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,

If fair their fates may be.

[42] To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,

And gifts with gifts requite;

But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,

And fraud with falsehood meet.

Hávamál, from The Poetic Edda, translated by Henry Adams Bellows

Hello friends!

How much do you make use of relationships in your games? Do the PCs frequently call in at home so their parents will do their laundry? Do they lean on their friends for help? Do they seek instruction and guidance from their mentors? Do they seek out their rivals for a loan? Why not?

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It’s a Trap!

Fall by Rebekah Bennington

Hello friends!

I want to apologize for this blog’s recent hiatus. Many of you probably don’t know that my other hobby (apart from making games) is coaching women’s flat track roller derby. 

I coach two teams in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league: Manhattan Mayhem (a home team) and the Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars (a travel team). Over the past six weeks, Mayhem has played twice (a victory against Queens and a loss to Bronx), and the All-Stars have played five games across two tournaments (victories against New Jax (Jacksonville, Fl.), Arch Rival (St. Louis, Mo.), Victoria (Melbourne, Australia), Crime City (Malmö, Sweden) and Dirty South (Atlanta, Ga.)).

As you can imagine, I’ve been a little distracted! The good news is that both teams are now headed into the post-season. Mayhem will play Bronx again for the local championship in August. The All-Stars still have a few more games ahead, but our success has put us back in the #2 spot ahead of Victoria, and we hope to reclaim the Hydra from Rose City (Portland, Ore.) at the International WFTDA Championships in Montreal this November.

In the meantime, I’ve got a little breathing room to think about games once again — which is good, considering that this time next week I’ll be at Gen Con (Burning Wheel will be at booth 2150; come say hi!). On to Torchbearer!

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Evolving the Dread Crypt: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Skogenby Barrow by Rebekah Bennington

Last week, I wrote about NPCs I’ve added to the village of Skogenby to help bring it to life. This week we’ll use those NPCs and some material already in The Dread Crypt of Skogenby to update the adventure as Haathor-Vash’s plans take shape.

Note: The rest of this post will contain spoilers for the adventure.

The idea here is to create the feeling of a dynamic world that changes around the PCs. Some of those changes will be in reaction to the players’ actions, but the rest will be the result of antagonists and other NPCs advancing their agendas.

As a GM, this should be a relatively straightforward process: Between adventures, take stock of what your various important characters are up to (including PCs’ family, friends, mentors and enemies) and determine whether they’ve advanced their agendas or not. If they have advanced their agendas, note the consequences. That’s it. Simple, right? Let’s take a look at Skogenby.

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Evolving the Dread Crypt: Bringing Skogenby to (un)life

Over the past several weeks I’ve alluded several times to my ‘evolution’ of The Dread Crypt of Skogenby. For the next several posts I plan to take a deeper dive into the details of that evolution to give you an example of how you might evolve your own adventures.

To set the stage, I need to first tell you about how I updated the adventure. I wanted my players to invest in Skogenby as a place, maybe even choose to come from the village, so I fleshed it out a little bit.

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Prepackaged and Individually Portioned

The Light of Civilization Flickers by Russ Nicholson

One of the biggest challenges Torchbearer GMs face is creating dungeons or choosing published dungeons (especially if they weren’t specifically written with Torchbearer in mind).

I highly recommend crafting your own dungeons if you have the time. It’s fun! The Adventure Design chapter can help make it a snap, too! But you don’t need to shy away from published adventures, even from other games. They’ll make your life easier.

Whether you choose to make your own or use a prepackaged adventure, you’ll get the best results if you play to Torchbearer’s strengths.

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Way Down in the Hole

Castle Erobring by Kurt Komoda

As a Torchbearer GM, your job is to create opportunities for players to make choices.

The communities you’ve placed on your map have problems! Not only do they face the possibility of real-world horrors like natural disasters, war and plague, the lands surrounding them are filled with goblins, dragons and evil enchanters. The dungeons and hazardous locations on your map won’t just exist in isolation (for the most part), they’ll create direct and indirect threats to the settlements on your map, and the people in those places will notice!

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Starting Fresh Pt. 2

Last week I wrote about creating the map for my new campaign. Finishing the map (for now) wasn’t the end of my prep for this campaign, of course. Before I could even think about prepping the dungeons, I had to get down some details important to character creation.

The first thing I did was give each of the settlements on the map their own skills and traits so the players could choose for their characters to come from those places. In a pinch, I could have just used the templates from the core book. Asktoft could just be a Busy Crossroads. But this is an opportunity to give the place its own character and feel.

For instance, here’s Asktoft:

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Starting Fresh

Hello friends!

As I noted in my last post, I started a new Torchbearer game a few weeks ago. I’ve subjected this particular group to a number of playtests of new adventures recently, all of which have ended in TPKs. They’ve been good sports, but they were ready to commit to something longer term (with the hopes of actually surviving a dungeon or two).

For my part, I wanted to get back to Torchbearer’s roots. One of the key ideas in my head when I first started working on the game was the idea of a map that would start with just a few locations and then grow over time as the group explored it and new details were added. That’s the core idea behind the Prepare Thyself chapter in the book.

I decided that we would start the game in the Middarmark, specifically in the Gottmark of the far north because it’s been unexplored territory in our games so far. I went to my Middarmark map and selected the boxed part of the map below. Specifically, I think it’s the little saddle between the mountain in the southwest portion of the map and the hills above it.

For me, the hardest part of making any map is where to start. I often find that picking an anchor geography point or points helps get me going. Part of what drew me to the section of the Middarmark map I chose is that big mountain at the top of the box. I chose that as my anchor point. I also know that I want to include Highwater (the port city from The Secret Vault of the Queen of Thieves). We’ll put it somewhere on the coast, though probably not on the initial map. That’s my second anchor point.

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